Articles Posted in Divorce

In many walks of life, it is said that “timing is everything.” In the law, timing isn’t everything, but it definitely can be a crucial thing. Get your timing wrong in carrying out some procedural step in your case and that incorrect timing may have disastrous consequences. This is just another one (among the countless) reasons why, when your divorce is going through the legal process, you need a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer from beginning to end.

As a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when your timing is not correct, there’s this recent divorce case that originated in Prince George’s County. The couple litigated their divorce in 2020 and, on Jan. 7, 2021, the judge granted an absolute divorce. The divorce judgment also covered the marital home (ordering the wife to transfer her interest to the husband,) child custody, and child support.

The judgment did not, however, say how much child support the wife was required to pay the husband each month.

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There is a massive array of reasons why it pays to have an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer representing you throughout your case. Many of these are things that you could list off the top of your head. One that you may not immediately think of — but can be hugely important in a divorce or divorce-related case — is perspective. Namely, a viewpoint that is objective, calm, and always rational. If yours is a divorce where emotions are high, that’s when you need your cool-headed and clear-minded legal counsel the most.

The potential to get into trouble — even legal trouble — in a moment of high emotion and rash behavior is higher than ever in this modern world of the Internet and social media. Such was the case for one woman in British Columbia.

According to the CBC, the woman was a plastic surgery patient who was displeased with the result of her breast augmentation procedure, as the final result allegedly left her bust in a lopsided condition.

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Some people may convince themselves that they do not need a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer to handle their case. They may assume that, because they and their spouse do not dispute most issues, or because they do not have many assets, or because their case does not seem to involve anything that implicates complex issues of law, they can handle it themselves. That kind of thinking is something that you should avoid, as it could be incredibly costly to you. Some divorcing spouses think they can’t afford to hire an attorney. More likely, you can’t afford not to.

Here’s a real-life example of how it can go wrong. In June 2019, V. M.-J. filed for divorce. The case went to trial that November and the spouses didn’t have attorneys. The court’s judgment gave the husband 15% of the wife’s government pension and ordered the wife to transfer her interest in the home to the husband, conditioned on his refinancing the home solely in his own name within 90 days.

Dissatisfied with the outcome, the wife appealed. Her appellate argument was that the trial judge made a mistake in distributing the home and her pension because the husband did not file any court pleadings asking for these things.

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Prenuptial agreements can be an important part of a couple’s pre-marital planning. Obviously, if you’re going to the trouble to create and execute a prenuptial agreement, you want to be sure that the prenuptial agreement you have is something that, if it is eventually needed, will be enforced by the courts. A skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can help you in setting up your prenuptial agreement to get something that will meet the law’s requirements and do what it is supposed to do.

Here in Maryland, there are several ways that a prenuptial agreement may fail to qualify to be enforced. A recent case from Montgomery County is an example of how the process can go wrong and lead to an invalid agreement.

G.H. and H.H. were a couple who married in the summer of 2011. It was his third marriage and her second. According to the wife, the husband did not bring up anything about a prenuptial agreement until roughly one week before the wedding day. The agreement that the husband presented to the wife was written by the husband’s lawyer and was composed in English, a language with which the wife allegedly had limited skills.

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If you’ve followed the news coverage of the divorce of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, you’ve likely seen headlines, everywhere from People to Business Insider, stating that Melinda has declared her marriage to Bill to be “irretrievably broken.” The headlines blare as if the readers are getting some new and surprising insight into the state of the Gateses’ marriage. As any knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer will tell you, though, the reality is actually something much more mundane.

People outside the legal world sometimes misunderstand how the legal process works. They may see language included in a party’s pleading and think that it is particularly unique, insightful, or shocking when actually, it is just form language that is required by the rules that the law has erected. The stories about the Gateses’ divorce make for one very good example of that.

Melinda Gates filed for divorce in her hometown of Seattle. Washington is a state that recognizes no-fault divorce. In states like these, the spouse who files for divorce doesn’t need proof that the other spouse was “at fault” (such as, for example, being unfaithful, being excessively cruel, being insane or imprisoned, or deserting the filing spouse.)

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Sometimes, a divorce case may be something that is straightforward and involves mostly the resolution of factual issues. Other times, your divorce case may feel like a chess match with a series of dueling procedural moves. Whether your case looks more like the former or the latter, it can benefit from the skillful representation provided by an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer. The right attorney can help you to present your strongest possible factual case and avoid being sidetracked by the other side’s procedural moves.

One of the many decisions that must be made in any divorce case is where to file. Once you’ve made your choice and filed your petition, your spouse is generally not allowed to defeat that by turning around and filing his/her own divorce petition in another county.

Here’s an example. In early August 2019, a Maryland man filed for limited divorce in Baltimore County. Less than six weeks later, the wife filed for absolute divorce in Montgomery County.

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In a lot of states, there is only one option for obtaining a divorce, and that is the “no-fault” option. (There are actually 17 of those states.) Maryland is not one of those 17. In this state, you have the choice of getting a “no-fault” divorce or getting a divorce based on the conduct of your spouse. The choice you select can make a big difference so, before you go to court and file either kind of divorce, be sure you’ve retained a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer to get the information and advice you need.

In internet slang, there exists the word “stigginit.” It is, essentially, a variation of “sticking it,” and means “sticking it” to someone or acting out of pure spite. Some believe that, if a spouse chooses to proceed with a fault divorce as opposed to a no-fault divorce in a state (like Maryland) that has both options, that spouse is just “stigginit” to their ex, or being spiteful. In reality, that’s not true. Obtaining a divorce due to your spouse’s fault can yield some very tangible benefits for you, such as a larger spousal support award (or your spouse receiving a smaller award,) as well as a more favorable child custody arrangement.

Here in Maryland, there are several ways you can get a fault-based divorce. They include your spouse’s adultery, your spouse’s deserting you, your spouse’s going to jail for a crime, or your spouse’s having gone insane. There’s also a ground for something called “cruelty of treatment” and, as one recent divorce case revealed, that ground encompasses more than just physical violence.

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Watch enough TV crime dramas and, at some point, you’ll likely encounter your favorite grizzled detective grumbling about how a suspect was set free on “some ridiculous technicality.” What does that scene have to do with your divorce? It’s a reminder that there are “technicalities” in all areas of the law, including divorce law, and those aspects of the law or court rules can harm or destroy your case. When it comes time to pursue your divorce, relying on an experienced Maryland family law attorney can help you to minimize the risk that a technical matter of law or procedure will trip you up.

The recent divorce case of a couple from Hagerstown is a good example. After the trial court entered its order, A.P., who was not pleased with the outcome, did two things. She initiated an appeal process by filing a document called a “Notice of Appeal.” She also filed a document asking the trial court to change its order, called a “Post-Trial Motion to Reconsider.” She submitted both of these more than 10 days but fewer than 30 days after the court’s decision.

Both of these were viable options for the disgruntled wife. Maryland law says you can ask a judge to reconsider his/her order by filing a motion to alter or amend a judgment within 10 days. You can also file a motion in which you ask your trial judge to revise the judgment. (You have 30 days to file that kind of request.)

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When two people marry in Maryland, especially if they marry later in life, they may bring multiple assets into the marriage, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, and more. Those assets may start out as non-marital but, if you and your spouse mix marital funds with a non-marital account’s funds, that mixing may change how the law views that asset, and may entitle you to a more favorable distribution of assets. Whether you are seeking or opposing a finding that an asset is non-marital in your divorce, it pays to have an experienced Maryland divorce attorney on your side to get the fair resolution you deserve.

A.S. and T.R. were a couple with these kinds of assets. The pair married in 2006 then separated a decade later. The wife had an individual retirement account that, at the time of the couple’s divorce trial, had a balance of $86,453. In the trial court’s final judgment of divorce, the judge found that the IRA’s funds were almost entirely non-marital.

The husband appealed successfully. A key reason for that related to the way the trial court erred in analyzing the couple’s marital and non-marital assets.

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Lawyers, of course, keep up with new rulings from the courts all the time to make certain they are up-to-date on the law in the areas where they practice. That’s important because, when you are working with the right Maryland divorce attorney, you have the benefit of a legal advocate who possesses a thorough, complete, and up-to-date knowledge of the law in this state.

Many court rulings, however, also have information that can be really useful for most anyone facing a particular circumstance, like going through a divorce. Take, as an example, this divorce case from Baltimore.

The wife filed for divorce in 2019 after 17 years of marriage. Each spouse accused the other of financial misconduct.

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